I am the original owner of a 72 Les Paul gold top. It's in great shape, having sat in my closet for all except about the first 5 years of its life.

Until now.

I have been playing again for several years and being old the guitar could use some work for best sound and playability. Bridge needs work or replacement, there are some volume/electrical quirks, etc.

My question is: how would doing this work affect the value of the instrument? Even though I'd like to play it I don't want to do things which will adversely affect its value.

Would I be better off leaving this as is and getting something else to noodle around on?

  • 1
    Perhaps upgrade is the wrong term. Restoration may be more apposite. Putting on another bridge isn't an onerous task, and I guess spraying the pots with switch cleaner is all that's required. That puts it pretty well back to original, and playable. Which is how an instrument ought to be. Personally, I'd get another guitar to play daily ( I had an old Les Paul in the early '60s, and got shut after a few weeks - we didn't gel...) Yes, I kick myself most days! But a guitar that costs a lot less but one you get on with is more satisfying to play, maybe. No answer, thus a comment.
    – Tim
    Dec 16, 2017 at 9:10
  • That instrument is sort of both into collectors world and musicians world. Try connecting to some companies trading used guitars to find the approximate value (I would guess around $3000. ) My guess is that if you go to a good guitar technician, the value will not go down. Replace the bridge (keep the old one in storage), get the neck straight and fix the frets, fix the electrical stuff -- in order to get a playable instrument.
    – ghellquist
    Dec 17, 2017 at 19:08

1 Answer 1


On an expensive guitar, you would want to leave any kind of setup and maintenance work to a professional, save changing the strings.

As long as the guitar is functional, it sounds like it needs some basic setup work and maintenance. The potentiometers that control the volume and tone get scratchy, and sticky over time. They can be cleaned with electronics cleaner, which usually will bring them back to working condition. Occasionally the capacitors go bad, and need to be replaced. Vintage style capacitors are available that look very close to the original.

You basically want to leave everything completely original, unless there is no other way to get it working. If you do get replacement parts, make sure that they are the correct part that would have been installed from the factory. Collectors are very picky, and can tell when something is not original. Also if you replace any parts, be sure to keep the originals, as they are not replaceable.

A professional luthier that specializes in vintage electric guitars would be the best person to bring it to. Make sure you find someone with a good reputation. They would be able to do all the setup, just like it was from the factory, or better. There are certain operations that only an experienced luthier can perform such as neck resets, refretting, etc.

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